"Snap" "Homing" "The Old Child" "Jardi Tancat"
San Francisco, CA
June 8, 2018
by Rita Felciano
copyright © by Rita Felciano
Good choreography, well performed. What else could you want? If this formula includes new and contemporary choreography by a group of independent dancers whose sense of ensemble is excellent, you get an intelligent, challenging evening of dance that makes you look forward to what else is coming down the line. Such again was the impact of the now three-year old SF Danceworks whose founder James Sofranko now is starting a tenure as the Artistic Director of Grand Rapids Ballet. Choreographer /dancer Danielle Row has been appointed Associate Artistic Director while Sofranko remains Artistic Director. Premieres by Sofranko and Row were bracketed by the reworked “Snaps” by Peggy Saunders and Nacho Duato’s evergreen “Jardi Tancat.”
Garrett Anderson and SF Danceworks dancers in "Homing"
Photo: Alexander Reneff-Olson
In Rowe’s otherworldly “The Old Child,” tall Britt Juleen looked like something out of a horror movie. With her back to us, she repeatedly rolled herself up to great heights, signaling to the live musician (David Knight) to call up, perhaps, memories, perhaps, a past life. Her rising bent back became one of “Child’s” key movement ideas as the restless Juleen recalled her past. Playful unison skips, slides and lifts for Anderson and Anne Zivolich-Adams suggested an easy camaraderie even though Zivolich-Adams’ clawing leaps had something of an animal’s force to them. In another duet, Eng in green tights, approached the black-clad Genshaft as if she were a shadow trying to fuse with its owner. Towards the end, O’Malley dragged herself towards Juleen who responded with a silent scream.
Saunders “Snap”, with a curious bell-like score by Olafur Arnolds and Nils Frahm, featured Rowe and Brett Conway in initially abrupt phrases that gradually lengthened as the movements expanded away from primarily hand gestures. The choreography, apparently, was inspired by the game of patty cake. What at first looked playful, developed complexity as the couple stretched and longed for a world beyond them. In the end Conway simply walked away, leaving a slightly befuddled Rowe behind.
“Jardi Tancat,” (“Enclosed Garden”), Duato’s first choreography. made while he was still a dancer, remains his most popular work; here the sextet of dancers gave it an excellent performance. Intelligently, the young choreographer had employed one of dance’s most powerful tools: repetitions and unisons. Maria Del Mar Bonet’s anguished vocals provided the context. Curiously, she only starts to sing with the first woman’s solo — as if she wanted to underline women’s special burden. We have learned to praise “community” but “Jardi” becomes a cry against the prison it can become. The seed, initially, planted, dries up.
Mario Alonzo signed for the costumes; Jim French for the often somewhat dark lighting.